Some of us absolutely love an opportunity to meet 100 new people at a large networking event, while others of us would rather be caught in a downpour without an umbrella. Just because you don’t love large networking events doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get out there and network, however. There are plenty of reasons to network and also ways to network without making yourself miserable.
First let’s define networking as reaching out to old and new contacts in order to stay in touch, learn about one another’s business and be a potential source of business for one another. Meeting a former colleague for a lunch to catch up is networking; attending a presentation and engaging in a conversation with the person next to you is networking; joining and attending a leads group/professional group is networking; even talking to your next door neighbor about what you do for a living can be considered networking. As long as you are out there making connections and maintaining them, you are networking.
1) Networking is a fantastic way to gather referral business and someone coming to you because they were given your name by someone they know and trust is much more likely to become a customer.
2) Maintaining relationships with people you already know through contact via occasional lunches, coffee or a conversation at a gathering/event you both attend is a great way to stay fresh in someone’s mind. Generally, people tend to know more than one person in the same profession. If you want them to think of you, then you have to maintain a relationship with them.
3) Even people who don’t seem to have anything in common with you or your business may know someone that you absolutely need to know. You’ll never find out unless you talk to them!
4) Not only do you have an opportunity to meet new people that can spread the word about you and your business, you also have a chance to meet someone that can potentially help you grow by providing a service to you that you might not yet even know you want or need. Having a strong network is as much if not more so about being able to help someone else has them helping you.